At long last, there is good news for Americans who have weathered the Coronavirus Pandemic. The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States have dropped to the lowest levels in a year. Vaccines have become more accessible and increasingly convenient to obtain. On May 13, we awoke to the news that the CDC removed mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals. Again, we discovered ourselves adjusting to new and shifting guidelines. Cautiously, we began to wonder about life after COVID.
It had seemed like it would never end. We established a newly labeled phenomenon. FOMO (the fear of missing out) was real. Yet we did our best to adhere to the guidelines of an imposed lifestyle devoid of the activities we had always enjoyed. The original mandatory stay at home orders stretched into months of escalating restrictions. Our anxiety intensified as the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths continued to rise despite the precautions we were taking. We struggled to adhere to the new lifestyle imposed upon us. We worried that our lives would be forever changed. We sought to envision how we would navigate a post pandemic world. Mostly, we made the necessary modifications required and muddled through fourteen months of scarcities, deprivation, and an imposed isolation which we could not have foreseen.
And then, once more, our world changed. Restrictions were eased, venues reopened, and options for gathering outside of the home were increasingly available. Still another phenomenon developed. We found ourselves experiencing a fear of going out. FOGO now joined our growing lexicon of pandemic terms. We wondered if we could trust the new guidelines. We questioned if it was truly safe to remove our masks when we had been told they were what had saved our lives. We speculated regarding our safety seated inside a restaurant for the duration of a meal. We worried if it would be prudent to send our children back to school – or to return ourselves if we were teachers? We pondered the likelihood of the success in a return to normalcy.
But we had learned to trust in the science, and science confirmed what in our hearts we already knew. We are social animals. We need to be with others, and we need to interact. We had learned to adjust and adapt to a life dependent upon technology that allowed us to stay connected. We had made accommodations in how we worked, learned, worshipped, and sought medical attention. Our priorities had realigned. We were now filled with gratitude for all that we had. We were more empathetic towards those with fewer options. We had learned to treasure the love of those we held most dear. It was well past time to again explore the beauty of our world. We began to cautiously embark upon the life that was again available to us outside of our homes. And we became eager to again embrace what we had sacrificed while incorporating the pandemic lessons we had learned.
What was the biggest change you noticed in yourself during the pandemic? What new insights did you gain? What is your greatest hope for the post pandemic world?